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Hope and Rage

Protagonist

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Album Review

Political punk without the naïve idealism and self-righteous sloganeering that mars the worst of the style, Protagonist's Hope and Rage lyrically recalls some of the great British post-punk bands of the late '70s and early '80s. Like the Mekons, Gang of Four, or the Au Pairs, Protagonist mix the personal and the political, using indirect questioning as much as finger-pointing. Musically, the six-piece band (with two singers and a full-time keyboard player) play a similarly sophisticated brand of hardcore punk. Protagonist aren't interested in tricky time signatures or dynamic changes any more complicated than your standard mosh sections, but there's a casual mastery to the way they slip an unexpected key change or instrumental solo into these 11 songs. The high points are the pummeling rocker "Maginot Lines," and the anthemic closer "Hope," a surprisingly lengthy but cathartic blend of the album title's twin emotional states, that ends the record on an exhausted but defiant note.

Hope and Rage, Protagonist
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